Recipe Review: Blue Velvet Cake

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Blue-ish Velvet Cake

Here’s the Recipe I used

I have a confession to make: I have never made a layer cake. In my opinion, the layer cake is the scariest culinary feat known to man. I’m dead serious. Cakes are usually associated with special occasions; birthdays, weddings, retirements, etc., and all those occasions come with high expectations. That’s a recipe for disappointment because something always goes wrong with a cake. They end up not cooked all the way through, too dry, with too much frosting, not enough frosting, or (my personal nightmare) the cake layers end up uneven and the whole thing resembles the leaning tower of Pisa.

In the past few weeks I’ve been trying to get over my culinary fears by cooking recipes that unnerve me. I decided to make a true southern classic, red velvet cake. Then I had a brilliant idea! Since the Duke Blue Devils were playing in the NCAA tournament, I would bake a Blue Velvet cake in their honor (let’s face it, UGA isn’t making it to the big dance anytime soon so a red cake can wait until football season).

The Ingredients needed for my Blue Velvet cake

The Ingredients needed for my Blue Velvet cake

Being a true Southern Belle, the only Red Velvet recipe I’m willing to use comes from Southern Living magazine. I thought it would be really easy to substitute blue food coloring for the 2 ounces red I needed…..I was very mistaken. I went to four different grocery stores and none of them had a large singular bottle of blue food coloring! I found red, green, yellow and (oddly enough) black food coloring, but no blue. After striking out at store #4, I admitted defeat and purchased one of those assorted food coloring kits with a .25 ounce bottle of blue.

A tiny bottle of blue food coloring

A tiny bottle of blue food coloring

The batter before food coloring

The batter before food coloring

Once back home with my food coloring I began to mix up the cake. It’s a very straight forward recipe with a POUND of butter creamed together with sugar and eggs. Then came the dry ingredients alternated with a cup of sour cream until everything’s combined. The cake pre-food coloring is a beautiful nutty brown. I almost didn’t add the food coloring I liked it so much, but this cake was in honor of Coach K and “tha Dookies”, so I squeezed in the entire bottle of blue food coloring and prayed it would turn out just like I wanted.

The drops blue food coloring starting in the mixer

The drops blue food coloring starting in the mixer

Swirly pretty-ness

Swirly pretty-ness

I waited as the food coloring swirled around the mixer until the batter turned a lovely shade of light blue…Carolina blue to be more specific. I was horrified! I couldn’t serve a Carolina blue cake to a die-hard Duke fan, that’s like asking my parents to do the Gator Chomp (the apocalypse would happen before my parents would do our biggest rival’s signature cheer). I covered the batter and rushed out to buy another 4 pack of food coloring. Once I returned I added a second .25 ounce bottle of blue coloring to the mixture. The batter color transformed from Carolina blue to a slate blue that still wasn’t anywhere close to Duke blue. I added a few drops of red food coloring hoping it would make the blue intensify; instead the dough became a tealish hue. At that point, I decided there was no way I would get to Duke blue without buying several more food coloring kits and that the best thing for me to do was bake my three layers of blueish cake and hope the color changed in the oven.

The accidental Carolina Blue batter

The accidental Carolina Blue batter

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My 3 layers before they were baked off

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A cooling cake layer, more blue green than Duke blue

Once the cakes were baked, cooled, and taken out of their pans they looked very blue-green, I was completely deflated. Luckily for me, Chris took a break from basketball to inspect my work. He took one look at my uniquely colored cakes, laughed, and reminded me that what mattered was how the cake tasted, not how it looked. That was the boost I needed to make the cream cheese icing and complete the cake (side note, there are 3 sticks of butter in the icing….that’s 7 sticks of butter in the whole cake…I should probably jog this week).

Icing the Cake

Icing the Cake

 

When the cake was assembled and completely iced it was surprisingly very pretty. Then I cut a piece of cake for Chris to eat and it wasn’t as pretty. The blue-green cake against the white cream cheese icing made the whole thing look, well, weird. Chris said it looked like he was eating a huge piece of mold and my friend Faith said it looked like floral foam. Thank goodness it tasted much much better than it looked! The cake was buttery rich, sweet and the tangy cream cheese icing gave the cake a much needed bite. Ultimately everyone who tried a piece of cake said it was tasty.

A piece of my moldy/florist foam cake

A piece of my moldy/florist foam cake

The cake displayed

The cake displayed

 So, though I still think layer cakes can easily be a disaster, I am not as afraid of them as I was before making my blue-green velvet cake!

Roz waiting for her own piece of cake

Roz waiting for her own piece of cake

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Recipe Review: Sunday Beef Stew

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Sunday Beef Stew

Interested in making this yourself? Here’s the recipe you seek

Me editing the blog, my least favorite thing when it comes to this hobby.

Me editing the blog, my least favorite thing when it                                comes to this hobby.

Dearest readers, my apologies for the lack of blog posts for the last two weeks. I was originally planning to skip a week and then post a long, exciting entry last Thursday about our trip to Las Vegas….but that didn’t happen. I’d start working on the post and then I’d get hopelessly stuck every time. I couldn’t write more than two paragraphs at a time before getting frustrated and scraping my draft. Eventually I decided to abandon the post and move on.  I’d love some tips from all my fellow bloggers on how they push through their writers block so that I don’t get stuck like this again.

 

 Anyway, back to the post at hand.  Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Today we celebrate the Irish, the color green, and public intoxication (Ok that’s more New York City than North Carolina, but still!) We in the 2 Cats household have another reason to celebrate on March 17th; it’s my beloved’s birthday! It’s comforting to know that on his birthday Chris will never have to drink alone.

The main players of this Sunday Stew

The main players of this Sunday Stew

In honor of these grand occasions, I turned to my favorite redhead for an appropriately festive recipe. I settled on the Pioneer Woman’s Sunday beef stew. I really love stews; they bubble away in or on top of the stove for several hours and always make the house smell amazing. I think they’re great for company because they make everyone feel welcomed and at home. This recipe was no exception and actually I did make it on a Sunday (though just for two). Not a lot of labor that goes into this stew; a little searing, some chopping and then 2 and a half hours of simmering away while I moved on to the huge pile of laundry upstairs.

mmmm searing beef

mmmm searing beef

The supporting players in this stew are diced carrots and turnips. To be honest, I don’t think I’d ever eaten a turnip before. I was always afraid they’d be super bitter and unappealing like the greens, boy was I wrong! The turnips were a little peppery and starchy and I loved them. That radish-like bite was the perfect balance for the sweetness of the carrot. When we were grocery shopping for the recipe Chris tried to get me to leave out the turnips but I said we should try them. I think he was also a turnip convert because I don’t remember any complaints about them once he started eating.

The diced veggies.

The diced veggies.

The stew was hearty and meaty and hit all those good comfort food notes. I’m not 100% sure but I think that I didn’t get the stew up to a simmer as quickly as I was supposed to and therefor not as much stock evaporated leaving a lot more liquid in my pot than in Ree’s. It didn’t matter because everything was cooked through and delicious. I enjoyed it so much that I went back for seconds, which is a big deal for me.

It seems turnips float....

It seems turnips float….

  To make the meal even more comforting, I served mashed potatoes under the beef stew. I didn’t use the recipe that went along with Ree’s post because Chris is anti-cream cheese. The starchy goodness adds another level of richness and depth to the whole bowl of food. As I was eating I realized this whole thing is an upside down shepherd’s pie! And really, what could be better on a Sunday Night, St. Patrick’s Day, or your fiancée’s birthday than that?

The final stew served over some yummy mashed potatoes

The final stew served over some yummy mashed potatoes

This picture isn't relevant to the post in anyway. Rosalind has this habit of sitting upon anything on our dining room table, I'm not sure why...but this was too cute to pass up.

This picture isn’t relevant to the post in anyway except that it took place on the day I made the stew. Rosalind has this habit of sitting upon anything on our dining room table, I’m not sure why…but this was too cute to pass up.